Helen and Randall on the road

A bit about our adventures 2011-2012

Posts Tagged ‘Jai Singh

Monday 16th – Wednesday 18th January: Jaipur

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I remembered (vaguely, from 1994 being there with Neil) that Jaipur was horribly hectic, and on arrival at the train station on the early Shatabdi from Delhi it seemed so. After a few minutes of dithering (I had booked a hostel, but Randall was feeling unwell so I thought we should go somewhere more upscale) we sat down at a roadside caff or dhaba to figure out what to do.

Several cups of chai and some REALLY good food later:

Food – the answer to so many problems!

we decided to stick to the original plan.  A glance at Google Maps and confirmation from the dhaba-wallah told us that it was a 10 minute walk through some of the narrow, non-car streets so we set off.

On arrival we were pleasantly surprised at the beautifully decorated hostel, set back from the road with a small courtyard, and the super friendly owners who checked us in and showed us to our room on the first floor which even had a small balcony!

Randall outside the reception of our lovely hostel in Jaipur.

Reception. Note the beautiful hand-painted walls.

Details of the walls, ceilings and door frame paintings.

Traditional Rajasthani puppet guarding the door.

Painted glass in the stairwells.

Rooftop terrace of the hostel.

Rooftop terrace of the hostel.

Rooftop terrace of the hostel.

The next day we took ourselves off on a walking tour of the walled city, which was as mayhem-like as I remembered. The first stop was the beautiful Hawa Mahal – the palace of the winds:

View of Amber from the top of the Hawa Mahal

Doing my best bollywood film impression

Next up was the Jaipur Jantar Mantar – built after the Delhi one and generally agreed to be the best preserved and most complete of the 5 built by Jai Singh.

Randall having a rest on a measuring instrument

After the JM and it’s appalling audio guide (the Hawa Mahal one was really good, and we’d decided we liked them after the amazing one at the Killing Fields museum in Cambodia) we decided we were touristed out and deserved lunch, so took an auto-rickshaw back to our hotel and then walked to ‘our’ dhaba again for a very late lunch.

The rickshaw driver – like everyone else who thinks they might be able to get some more business from you – asked the classic ‘where are you from’ questions, and when we said ‘England’ (UK or Wales get completely blank looks)  immediately yelled “I’M Alan Partridge! Ah HAAAA”. Which was surprising. Apparently one of his customers (proudly displayed in his rickshaw ‘visitors book’) had described him as Alan Partidge and he’d adopted the name having never actually seen the show. We laughed.

Our rickshaw-driver’s meter – possibly the only ‘functioning’ one in Jaipur if not India?? Showing the ‘Indian’ fare: at this point 5 Rupees and 10 Paisa, although I haven’t seen a Paisa coin since 1994. Needless to say (and fair enough), tourists pay about 5-10 time this amount!

Dhaba-wallah

Chapati-wallah

Dhaba fan.

After eating until it was dark we headed back to our hotel as it was COLD (in the desert at night) and watched a film while snuggling under the blankets in bed. Hooray for holidays!

The next morning we took a tour to the Amber Fort/Palace in a taxi (we thought about taking a rickshaw but it would have been rather chilly and quite far at 12km) – I vaguely again remember going there with Neil but didn’t remember much about it except that now it is much more organised and more things are closed off to the public. Again there was an excellent audioguide. We were, however, a bit distressed by the elephants that spend all day plodding up and down the hill to the fort with howdahs and tourists on their back; they did not pass the ‘healthy elephant check’ that we learned in Thailand at Patara – we think they were very dehydrated and sad 😦

The palace/fort was beautiful though; I was reminded of a bigger but less well preserved Alhambra:

The Fort, taken from the approach road

Randall and the Diwan-i-Am

Elephant head detail on the Diwan-i-Am

Formal gardens – if you’ve been you’ll see what I mean about the Alhambra

Randall on the cloister/walkway area around the gardens. Apparently the technology/architecture employed to ensure airflow even in the height of the desert summer was incredibly sophisticated.

Detail of the Zenana

Sheesh Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas

Detail of Sheesh Mahal

Palace on the lake near Amber – no longer inhabited, sadly.

Randall posing, lake palace in background.

After eating lunch in our favourite dhaba again we had a little wander about the area around our hotel, bought some fruit from a roadside seller, and headed back to our hotel to watch the final BBC Sherlock Holmes on iPlayer. Technology – it’s great.

The rest of the photos are here.

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Written by helenbcn

January 19, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th January: Delhi

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We arrived in Delhi in the early hours of Saturday morning so Saturday was a pretty uneventful day of a bit of a lie in, a leisurely breakfast on a roof terrace in Paharganj, then traipsing around Connaught Place getting a replacement iPhone for Randall as he managed to drop his into the workings of his flat-bed seat on the plane and grind it into pieces., as well as getting SIM cards sorted which turned out to be one of those classic ‘more complex than it needs to be’ transactions requiring photos, which had to be taken in the photo studio down the street, which took 15 minutes to process them (and this after, in the rather Heath Robinson studio upstairs, the photographer had asked me to ‘clean face’ as I was apparently too shiny for the camera).

We had dinner of dhal, rice, veggies and parathas plus a few beers  at Paharganj staple ‘Sam’s Rooftop Terrace’ , then after wandering the length of Main Bazaar we called into ‘My Bar’ for another couple:

On Sunday morning we rose in time for breakfast in another rooftop cafe overlooking the bonkersness of Paharganj…auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, the odd car, the odd cow and people people people competing for space and attention. Then it was off in an auto-rickshaw to the Jantar Mantar – our rickshaw driver was quite mad; swerving up to other vehicles to shout at their occupants, but he made me laugh a LOT when we passed a small minibus with some naff western hippy hanging out of the window – all dirty dreads and grubby ‘I”m *spiritual* maaaaaaaan’ robes – and our driver practically pranged the bus so he could yell ‘NICE HAIR, MAN!!!’ at him before veering off across the traffic in the other direction. *Smirk*.

The Jantar Mantar looks like a sculpture park but is actually a series of astronomical measuring instruments built in 1724:

The gnomon of a huge sundial, accurate to within several seconds.

Posing in front of a clock that tells the time in Delhi, Zurich and Tokyo.

Instrument for determining detailed astronomical information for astrological purposes, ie for calculating birth charts based on detailed star sign info.

Samrat Yantra (the big sundial) from another angle.

Part of instrument for measuring azimuth of celestial bodies:

Clever, no?

Peering through one of the arches.

From the Jantar Mantar we walked to the nearest metro station on the Delhi Metro – I was SO excited about this as I had been finding it hard to imagine what a metro/underground/subway system would be like in India. As it turns out, busy, efficient, clean, modern and cheap; women only carriages, mobile phone charging points and and 3G network coverage. At only 15 rupees and 12 minutes to Green Park station for Hauz Khas village, we were very impressed!

At Hauz Khas village we met Farah, a friend from London who had just arrived in Delhi for a week’s work in Gurgaon, for lunch at Gunpowder which was lovely, South Indian food on a table overlooking the lake. However, no booze so we caught a taxi back to Farah’s very posh hotel, the Oberoi in Gurgaon, for pudding and a bottle of wine:

Randall and Farah – terrace of 361° bar/restaurant, overlooking the ‘reflection pool’.

Helen & Farah, one bottle of Prosecco down

Hotel employees, wetsuited up, cleaning the bottom of the pool. Once the sun went down it was really cold so they must have been FREEZING!

The hotel was super modern and very beautiful, although with perhaps still a few teething problems; while the service was very attentive we still had to ask for the dessert menu FOUR times before someone brought it to us! That said, there were a huge number of complimentary snacks – cheese, dried fruit, bread fresh from the oven, indian sweets – brought to our table while we polished off two bottles of Prosecco and they were all fantastic so perhaps they just thought we were mad for actually ordering and paying for food! Still, the melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding was divine.

Because they messed up our request for a taxi back to Paharganj (oh the come down!) we got a free limo service back care of the hotel. Which was nice.

The rest of the pics are here.

Written by helenbcn

January 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm